Local company lays the foundation to a sustainable future.

Bodmin based Arco2 Ltd & Ecofab are looking forward to a sustainable future thanks to business advice and support from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme.

Arco2 is a firm of sustainable architects specialising in low energy and zero carbon architecture. Early expansion led to Ecofab, an innovative construction and prefabrication company, being set up to complement Arco2.

Since 2003, Directors Martin Penk, Ian Armstrong and Nathan Davis have focused on sustainable green building design, growing the two companies to 8 full time employees. In early 2013 they reached that tipping point which many small businesses do in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly of how to take their businesses to the next level whilst allowing innovation to flourish.

Arco2 & Ecofab contacted the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service (SWMAS) Ltd which is part funded through the Convergence Programme to seek advice on how best to move forward.

SWMAS has a project called the Product Development Centre (PDC) to support innovation and growth of small and medium sized manufacturing companies in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The PDC can offer bespoke support on product development (new and existing products), identifying and accessing new markets, strategies for business growth and much more.

Interestingly Arco2 and Ecofab are almost like a “one stop shop” in terms of design and build as Ecofab uses a unique prefabricated system of building using straw bale, timber and reclaimed materials. The Ecofab system stemmed from stick build straw bale projects undertaken in 2004 by the team to make a flexible, cost effective and sustainable building method whilst eliminating the disadvantages of traditional straw bale building. Coupled with their architecture expertise, the businesses can offer new build and sustainable redesigns, with current projects stretching from St Just to Bude.

Because of Ecofab’s manufacturing aspect SWMAS offered support so Arco2 & Ecofab could gain UKAS accredited ISO 9001 & 14001 to improve quality and environmental management systems.

To be an ISO accredited company is a bonus, but the whole process helped the directors look at their business with new eyes. Ian Armstrong Director of Arco2 & Ecofab said: ‘The SWMAS process made us look over each aspect of the business and think about how we market ourselves. Our Ecofab concept is unique and we have set a marketing agenda so more people can learn about it. Now is the right time to fine tune our business plans for long term growth.’  

As SWMAS links companies with expertise they brought in a consultant to guide the directors through the ISO process. Martin Penk Director of Arco2 & Ecofab said: ‘We quickly learnt you can spend hours on business coaching, but the focussed work with a consultant helped us manage that worry. There was some core lessons learnt, I especially liked the 80/20 rule where 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, which any small Cornish business can learn from.’

Martyn Pearson, Manufacturing Advisor from SWMAS said: ‘The work with Arco2 & Ecofab shows that small Cornish manufacturing businesses are prepared to take that next step with expert guidance to keep them on track. I congratulate them on their UKAS ISO accreditations, but I think the revolution the process has inspired within the company is the greater benefit, which will give them direction and focus for the next financial year.’

SWMAS are looking for manufacturing SME’s in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly who may benefit from support and guidance, to find out more contact SWMAS on 01392 241301 or [email protected]


Notes about the Product Development Centre (PDC) offered by SWMAS:


  • A free Review and Action Plan to highlight the key areas for support and ensure you receive the most appropriate help at the right time
  • Support from our dedicated team of expert advisors
  • Grants to support 50% of external costs (average £2500) associated with your project
  • Access to an exclusive ‘Knowledge Hub’, linking you with specialist expertise within universities, colleges and research centres
  • Signposting to further support from MAS & other providers to ensure you maximise the support available for your business
  • The project is being led by SWMAS Ltd and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme
  • To qualify your business must be a small and medium-sized (SME) business located in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and be in an eligible sector


Image L – R:


Martin Penk

Ian Armstrong

Nathan Davis

Find out more about SWMAS:  

Tel: 01392 241301

Web: www.pdctr.org

Find our more about Arco2 & Ecofab:

Directors: Ian Armstrong, Nathan Davis & Martin Penk




Matt Silver

Media Relations Officer for the Convergence Support team

Tel: 07805737444

Email: [email protected]

About the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Convergence Programme

The South West Manufacturing Advisory Service – Manufacturing Plus 2012-2015 is part financed by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Convergence European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.

For more information visit:  


Project Investment into the SWMAS project:

ERDF Convergence investment: £420,000

Private Sector Match: £180,000

TOTAL: £600,000

For more information visit www.erdfconvergence.org.uk

Tuesday 6 August 2013